Expectancy/hype is an enemy of the art consumer, especially within the audio world, as collaborations tend to have more coherence in a blend of styles. Though sometimes it comes and hits tremendously, that isn’t the case this time with the new collaboration album by Rapper/Producer Aminé and Musician/Producer Kaytranada. Looking at it on the surface, there wasn’t a surprise people had any sense of hype for the drop, especially as the two have had fantastic consistency from album to album. But with the expected, whether luscious summery production or smoother, fun flows, it’s as if the latter becomes consistently forgotten. Aminé’s flows aren’t as gripping or creative, never seeming to get out of this slower, heavy zone of flexing, that it sometimes transfers into more sociable romps that bring out the smooth cadence of his voice, like with “Sossaup” or “Eye,” where its features help boost the final production. Unfortunately, the highs aren’t enough to make Kaytranimé more of a great listen; it’s swift with lackluster pacing shortening the space left to breathe and making what follows a meandering disappointment.
There is some promise within Kaytranimé, especially Aminé’s lyricism/writing, as he keeps choruses and verses on point with the technicals and syllabic schemes. He’s witty and has some smooth lines that whiff with the flow, like when he gets behind the microphone; the delivery makes you feel unenthused. It’s what separates the decadent, island-smooth “Sossaup” or funky and soulful “4Eva” from tracks like “letstalkaboutit,” where it isn’t as creative. It leans more toward the mundane, feeling like a loosie, which gets overshadowed by a fun Freddie Gibbs verse. Like it, the former two have more of an equilibrium that makes it more effective despite having featured artists, though only Amaarae outshines him on “Sossaup.” Aminé’s flows tread familiarity and lack the creativity of sounds that reflect summer vibes, like the whimsical and ray-filled synths or modestly formidable but calming drum patterns that fluctuate with the strings and synths. Usually, Aminé has more of a command of his flows, but this time, he maneuvers them lazily without much bravado. It’s as if one was expecting something jovial and instead receiving this formal hip-hop album without many ear-popping moments.
The production of Kaytraminé shimmers, and hearing others perform over it is sometimes more memorable. It’s what makes “Eye” one of the more memorable tracks off the album, especially when it incorporates the strength of all three parties. Whether it’s Aminé’s singing, Kaytranada’s production, and the smooth Snoop Dogg flows from his Bush era, adding that sensual cadence, it counteracts Aminé’s emotionless/dronish delivery in the first verse making the song better, and Aminé’s rap verse a simple afterthought that meshes in. It’s as if Aminé found the golden goose in style as the song contains blended strength that boasts tracks like “4EVA,” “K&A,” and “Master P,” which are more attuned to expose the blended Hip-Hop/Dance/Funk sonic subtexts in the core percussion patterns of the beat. It’s a defining shift that makes you wish the album had a smoother trip as it gets bumpy after ascending and as it starts descending.
Throughout my listening of Kaytraminé, there were moments when it wasn’t clicking for me. Instead of taking unique directions vocally, it leaves the production somewhat of a misnomer, feeling like the only person who understood the assignment. It becomes entwined within two unlike sides, with Aminé aligning with constant braggadocio raps – harder and less vibey – there are some highs and lows. Some lows, “Westside,” “STFU3,” and “Ugh Ugh,” aren’t the strongest of the crop. It balances tone poorly; where Aminé would get more confidently typical, he chooses to downplay the bravado in his voice. It’s switching flows with beats where we hear some correlation, but it’s all rounding itself to become somewhat redundant and repetitive. To put it simply, his flows aren’t as vibrant. They overlap – sometimes, they feel distinct to the nature of the beat’s aesthetic. When you hear Aminé’s flow on “STFU3” compared to something like on “Rebuke,” you notice more balance. It’s such a disappointment since the album starts on a momentous high with “Who He Iz,” but his constant flex of collaboration can get tiring – it makes you appreciate more toned-down performances like on “Sossaup,” where everything just hits perfectly. And it starts with Kaytranada’s production, which I’ve noted prior.
Kaytranada’s production is the main highlight of Kaytraminé though slightly weak – it isn’t up to par with some of Kaytranada’s best work, but for what it’s trying to relay, some fantastic sonic choices are getting made. This ranges from the beat switch in “Ugh Ugh” to the pure Hip-Hop textures of tracks like “K&A” and “letstalkaboutit,” where it uses subtle notes to keep it in line with the summery aesthetic – as a collective, it isn’t always wound tight, but through an individualized lens, it becomes more and more apparent how much of a waste these beats were when tacked on with Aminé’s lukewarm delivery. It’s one thing to have great verses, but they are only as effective as the flow delivering them, and Aminé is not consistent there. The choruses are catchy, and the features are potent, but it’s a predominant whiff for both artists, more so Aminé. I wish I could have liked this more, but Kaytraminé is a disappointment. But why not give it a full listen; let me know what you think in the comments below.